CBRM campaign contributions released for last election

·2 min read

Two mayoral candidates in last fall's elections in Cape Breton Regional Municipality each received a large campaign donation.

Candidate donor lists posted to the CBRM website show incumbent mayor Cecil Clarke raised nearly $92,000, but former councillor Amanda McDougall won with just over $55,000 in contributions.

Clarke's list included a $10,000 donation from Irwin Simon, the head of a cannabis company who also owns the Cape Breton Eagles hockey team.

McDougall got a $20,000 donation from Annette Verschuren, who is chancellor of Cape Breton University, CEO of an energy storage company and a former president of Home Depot.

McDougall said that donation from her longtime mentor came in early and gave her campaign a huge boost.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

"We needed money up front to do things like have commercials, pay for online presence, all of that, which is quite costly, so [Verschuren] really allowed my campaign to get off the ground," McDougall said.

Mayoral candidate Chris Abbass raised nearly $6,400 and John Strasser $3,700.

Kevin MacEachern and Archie MacKinnon did not list any donations.

According to provincial rules, candidates are not required to list donations of $50 or less.

However, McDougall listed all donations $50 and over, and listed $865 as the total of all donations under $50.

She said transparency is important. "This is all part of being in the public realm," she said.

Donations for council candidates

Incumbency seemed to help three councillors — Earlene MacMullin, Steve Gillespie and Eldon MacDonald — who were returned to office without listing any campaign donations.

However, one incumbent, deputy mayor Ivan Doncaster, raised $2,900, but was defeated by Steve Parsons, who listed zero donations.

Other councillors raised varying amounts, from $300 for Kenny Tracey, who was successful in District 9, to $6,700 for Lorne Green, who won District 12.

McDougall said the results show that electoral success doesn't necessarily go to the candidate who raises the most money.

"It's not so much about how much money you're raising, but how you're using the money in your campaign," she said.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

Municipal election candidates outside Halifax are not required to list campaign expenses, but McDougall said she plans to post hers on her website.

She also said council will look into that and other aspects of municipal elections, such as a code of conduct for candidates.